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Jessica Lange Reminisces About American Horror Story

Jessica Lange Set Boundaries With Ryan Murphy and American Horror Story's, Well, Horror

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN, Jessica Lange in 'Bitchcraft' (Season 3, Episode 1, aired October 9, 2013), 2011-, ph: Michele K. Short/FX Networks/courtesy Everett Collection

In her time reigning over American Horror Story, Jessica Lange learned to set some boundaries with Ryan Murphy. "There are things that I tell [Ryan Murphy] I won't do," the actress said at a recent press conference for The Politician, her third and newest series with television mastermind. (Lange also starred in the first season of Murphy's Feud, about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.) As reported by Decider, Lange added, "We have come to a kind of understanding."

"The thing that interests me is the madness."

So what did she try and stay away from during her four seasons of American Horror Story? Well, the horror. "Over those four years of doing that I wasn't involved in the really gory aspect of that series. I said from the beginning, the thing that interests me is the madness, the psychological danger, the failings," Lange said. "But I did not want to do the other stuff. He always respected that and instead would give me like a Bowie song to sing, which I think is a good trade off."

It sounds impossible, but if you think about it, Lange's characters were often more rooted in the supernatural or psychological drama: in Murder House, she portrayed meddling next-door neighbour and martyred matriarch Constance Langdon; in Asylum, she was Briarcliff Manor's complicated head nun Sister Jude; in Coven, Lange portrayed Fiona Goode, a ruthless witch with cutting insults; and in Freak Show, she was the troupe's manager Elsa Mars. Flashbacks to the character's backstory were perhaps Lange's grisliest scenes in the anthology series.

In The Politician, Lange will be playing Dusty Jackson, a scheming grandmother who suffers from Munchausen's syndrome by proxy. "This character, I have no idea how people are going to respond to her," Lange said in anticipation of the show's Netflix release on Sept. 27. She added, "I keep saying to myself as a little mantra, 'Just remember it's a comedy. Just remember it's a comedy.'"

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